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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Walking and Riding

    Seems like I wore that Dennis Brown Club Foot Splint for a long time. My feet at long  last outgrew the orthopedic shoes. I went to the doctor and then Mom took me to an orthopedic shoe store in downtown Battle Creek to be fitted for a new pair. I hadn't learned to walk yet, but shortly after arriving home, I took my first steps.The shoes were big and bulky. They resembled men's work boots. My legs were very skinny, having very small muscles. A visiting nurse came quite often and made me do exercises, and on occasion my Mother would take me to the 'Crippled Children's Clinics" where they could check me over and measure my progress.
    I learned very quickly not to wear shorts with my skinny legs and over sized looking work boots.I took a lot of teasing. One day when I had taken enough teasing and bullying from my cousin(who was considerably larger than me) we got in a knock down, drag out fight in the front yard. Growing up in the Fifties it seemed every boy wore tennis shoes, or cowboy boots. I wasn't allowed to wear either. I learned to put up with the teasing as I continued through grade school. My leg muscles remained very weak and at times my knees would dislocate causing extreme pain.
When I was a little tot, I used to love to ride on the farmall H tractor with Dad. While he was driving it up the lane one afternoon and I was a three year old sitting on his lap, I looked up at him and said, "Can I drive and you walk?" That tickled Dad so that he never forgot it and mentioned it often. Seriously, I don't remember learning to drive the tractors. I know my shoulders were against the front of the seat when sliding down to reach the clutch and brakes when stopping. And my legs barely had the strength to push down the pedals.
    My parents bought me a big, red, heavy, 26inch bicycle.  We lived in farm country on gravel roads that had plenty of hills. My weak legs could peddle the bike on the level fairly well, and I could coast down the best of hills.When going up hills, I tired quickly. The neighbor kids would reach the top of the hill and then wait somewhat patiently for me to walk my bike up the hill. We used to ride a little over a mile to the country store and I had tried to ride to Lacy Lake, but the three or four miles was too far for me. The start of the next summer, I was 12 years old, and my parents bought me a brand new, light weight, 3 speed English bicycle.It was much easier for me to keep up with the others and I had no trouble riding to the lake. I felt some of the kids were jealous because I got a new bike. I would have been perfectly happy with my old bike if I could have got along with it.

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